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Fri Jan 25, 2013, 04:40 PM

The Way Forward- from fundamentalism to atheism

I discovered this blog some time ago called the The Way Forward it's by Bruce Gerencser a former fundamentalist Baptist pastor, turned atheist. He not only talks about his journey, but religion and fundamentalism in general.

The Emotional and Psychological Consequences of Authoritarian Religion

It should come as no surprise that this kind of religion messes people up emotionally and psychologically. Many people who leave authoritarian religions require years of psychotherapy to gain back what was taken from them. Sadly, in many cases, the damage is so severe that the person remains an emotional and psychological cripple the rest of their lives.

Authoritarian religion robs people of their identity. They gave up self to gain Jesus. People who leave authoritarian churches are often lost, in the sense that they have no idea who they are. They have spent decades living for Jesus and have no idea who they are and what it means to be human.

Often, people who leave authoritarian churches bring a lot of baggage with them. They battle with perfectionist tendencies and black and white thinking. Immersion in authoritarian religion robs a person of the ability to see nuance. They are taught that every question has an answer and that doubt and ambiguity are the tools of Satan.

In my own life, I have to live with with the fact that I am both an abuser and a victim. I grew up and was trained in authoritarian churches. I attended an authoritarian college. As I entered the ministry and began pastoring churches, I promoted and practiced authoritarianism. How could I do anything else? It was all that I knew. It was all that was ever modeled to me. When you are in the Evangelical bubble it all makes sense. Only when you are out of the bubble do you look back and say, Wow! I believed and practiced some bat-shit crazy stuff.

http://brucegerencser.net/2012/08/the-emotional-and-psychological-consequences-of-authoritarian-religion/
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Response to SpartanDem (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:04 PM

1. Good article and an interesting site.

Also interesting that he said this in his bio:
We are blessed to be the parents of six children and grandparents to eight.


He acknowledges his ongoing ambivalence, but is very thoughtful, imo.

Thanks for posting this.

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Response to SpartanDem (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 08:09 PM

2. Believers ought to wonder how it is possible that among those most educated in belief,

some decide there is nothing to believe. Are believers so incurious? Do they simply not want to ask questions?

Do believers notice this phenomenon among bricklayers or bookkeepers? Or could there be something wrong in this one field?

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Response to dimbear (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 08:47 PM

3. I know lots of health care professionals that have gotten out because they no longer

believe in the current system or that it no longer does what drew the to it in the first place.

I also know lots of people who went from a non-religious to a religious state because they found that they believed in something.

I don't understand your point at all. People change and their beliefs or lack of beliefs can change with them.

It's not unique and it's certainly not just one way.

And it has absolutely nothing to do with level of education.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:27 PM

5. Getting discouraged with health care is one thing. Thinking that there is no health care would be

another. In my examples, it would mean a bricklayer becoming convinced there were no bricks, or a bookkeeper becoming convinced there were no ledgers. I don't think that happens very often. It does have a good deal to do with education -- notice some of the very bright minds that have taken this shift, e.g. Bart Ehrman, Robert M. Price, just to mention a pair of current ones. I understand, others go the other way, but this should be disturbing--but it isn't.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:32 PM

6. Not that there is no health care, but many have found out that some of what it is based on

is fraudulent or untrue and nothing like they signed up. They essentially lost their belief and their faith.

Many bright minds have converted to a religion from no religion and vice versa.

It isn't disturbing in the least. Every individual finds their own path. To try and draw conclusions about a greater population based on a few anecdotal incidents speaks to another agenda.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #6)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:39 PM

7. We should all avoid generalizing from anecdotal incidents. That's too much like using parables.

We know that's wrong.

Interesting exchange. We think very differently.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:56 PM

8. Oh, yes indeed, dimbear. We think differently.

And that's what makes it all so interesting.

Have a great night. I'm going to watch the McLaughlin group and get all bent out of shape now!

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Response to SpartanDem (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 08:53 PM

4. Pointed and personal. I think his take on misogyny in fundamentalist structures holds for many.

Interesting read of his journey to this point. As a gay man, I'd include the general disavowal of same sex relationships among fundamentalists - whatever the religion, sect, or cultural context.

(aside) I liked his brief piece - "Dad, I Know You Are Irrational" - http://brucegerencser.net/

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